What? I Slept On This?? At Least, Now, You Won’t!

Luke Nuttall – The Soundboard (thesoundboardreviews.com)

 

The Artist:

Pagan: “Black Wash” (released on July 6th, 2018)

pagan

The Album:

 There’s a very real possibility that Pagan could be among the most exciting new bands on the planet. On its own, their foundation-shaking post-hardcore has a grit and visceral fire that’s so immediately satisfying to listen to, but having them integrate elements of black-metal and dance-rock, all while never feeling jarring or clunky, results in a sound that’s so unfailingly contemporary in its genre-clashing, but is also totally inimitable. The pitch-black thunder plays with tight grooves with next to no awkwardness or whiplash, while Nikki Brumen stands as the most commanding presence with paint-stripping shrieks that slot into the mix so effortlessly. It really is a marvel to behold, and one that deserves to be listened to by so many more.

Top Tracks:

“Death Before Disco”, “The Greatest Love Songs”, and “Imitate Me”

 

Mateusz Duczmal – Fear of Music

 

The Artist:

 Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks: “Sparkle Hard” (18th May 2018)

sparkle hard

The Album:

 It seems like a lot of people have forgotten about Stephen Malkmus – the man responsible for some of the best rock albums of the 90s he recorded with his main group, Pavement. They never really made it to the mainstream, but when they called it quits in 1999 they’ve already had a cult following on both sides of the Atlantic. Because of their underdog status, Malkmus; solo career hasn’t really attracted that much attention from people other than die-hard Pavement fans. Which is why his latest release has flown under the radar of most people – and it definitely deserved more attention. Musically, it’s a mixed bag of genres you would expect on a Malkmus record – lots of melodic, distorted indie, little bit of folk and country thrown here and there, as well as some surprising twists, like the auto-tuned vocals on “Rattler” But while his previous albums may have been a little hit-or-miss, “Sparkle Hard” delivers great tunes all the way through. Between the string arrangements on “Solid Silk”, and a duet with Kim Gordon on “Refute”, the album features enough clever ideas and charming performances to keep everyone entertained. With this record, Stephen Malkmus once again proved that when it comes to playful and effortlessly cool indie rock, he’s still one of the greatest. It’s a shame this record didn’t get as much attention as it deserved – it may just well be his best material since “Terror Twilight”.

Top Tracks:

 “Shiggy”, “Middle America”, and “Bike Lane”

 

Roberto Johnson – Riffs and Rhymes

 

The Album:

 Richard Swift: “The Hex”- September 21, 2018

the hex

The Album:

 Of the many albums which slipped under my radar in 2018, the one I have recently become enamored with is unquestionably The Hex, the last release from the late great Richard Swift. A master of mixing baroque pop with funk grooves, Swift’s work is highly referential to both 1960s psychedelia and traditional soul (see the luscious and laid-back instrumental “HZLWD”). In the wake of his death, the dark tendencies of his final LP are essentially unavoidable, but in these moments of despair lies an unadorned beauty. He cites a time for change on the blissful chant “Babylon,” then delivers an anxious elegy on “Nancy,” a downward spiraling ode to his deceased mother. The album’s standout, “Broken Finger Blues,” is a pulsing piece of piano rock and blue-eyed soul that uplifts an achingly gorgeous ballad of solace and grief. Swift was an indie polymath for the ages. The Hex is his swan song, an unbearably cathartic yet breathtakingly beautiful montage of his musical roots and ambitions.

Top Tracks:

“Broken Finger Blues”, “Dirty Jim”, and “HZLWD”

 

Skylar Clelard- Spinning Thoughts

 The Artist:

 Speak Low if You Speak Love: “Nearsighted” (January 19, 2018).

speak low

The Album:

 The album I wish I hadn’t slept on in 2018 was “Nearsighted” by Speak Low If You Speak Love. I wrote a review on this album when it came out, but I hardly listened to it after the original review. I rediscovered this album in late 2018 and I regret not listening to this album more. The whole thing is a beautiful experience. It’s great musically and lyrically and I should have listened to it more when it first came out. I think that Ryan Scott Graham is one of the most talented people in music and I should have paid more attention to this work of art when he first released it.

Top Tracks:

 “Contrasting Colors,” “Enough,” and “Cannot Have It All.”

 

Jeff Archuleta – EclecticMusicLover

 

The Artist:

 DARKSOFT: “BRAIN” (November 26, 2018)

darksoft

The Album:

 The album I wish I hadn’t slept on in 2018 was BRAIN by Seattle musician/producer DARKSOFT. It was released last November, but I didn’t discover it until February 2019. DARKSOFT is the music project of Bill Darksoft, an intelligent and highly creative young artist who’s produced one of the most interesting and brilliant concept albums I’ve heard in some time. BRAIN is named after the very first computer virus to attack the internet way back in 1986, with each track named after infamous viruses that followed. He takes each of those virus names and cleverly builds a narrative around them with compelling lyrics linking the synthetic world of the dark web with our human tendencies to trust and/or deceive others with whom we often have only casual contact. On the album opener “Mydoom”, a pleasing track with gauzy riffs of jangly guitars, subtle bass and gentle percussion, the lyrics speak to the seemingly harmless but insidious virus that keeps a watchful eye on one’s internet dealings. On “Elk Cloner”, DARKSOFT first warns about a virus that works to take over our thoughts, but then it’s as if the virus itself tells us not to worry and just remain calm. The bouncy “Conficker” alludes to the algorithms that control what we’re fed on social media, shaping our world view in the process. One of my favorite tracks is “Heartbleed”, with its enthralling melody, irresistible drumbeat and gentle psychedelic groove, thanks to deliciously eerie synths. I absolutely love DARKSOFT’s warm, captivating vocals. The lyrics seem to compare the feelings of someone who’s emotionally dead inside to that of a computer – a machine who only does what it’s programmed and directed to do. Another favorite is “Cryptolocker”, a darkly gorgeous song with dreamy and sometimes eerie synths that create a lush atmospheric soundscape. His ethereal vocals are seductive, yet menacing, as he coldly warns another not to screw with him: “You don’t know who you’re dealing with. You don’t understand who you’re messing with. Lock me away and I will pull the plug from under you.” BRAIN is a fantastic album, and I love pretty much everything about it – compelling lyrics, beautiful melodies, outstanding guitar work, first-rate production values, and stunning vocals. He’s an amazing talent, and I look forward to hearing what he comes up with for his next music project.

Top Tracks:

 “Heartbleed”, “Cryptolocker”, and “Code Red”

Candice Johnson – But I’m Not A Critic Though

  

The Artist:

 Travis Scott: “Astroworld” (August 3rd, 2018)

travis-scott-astroworld-second-cover-01-480x480

The Album:

 I know what you’re thinking.

“Astroworld was definitely NOT slept on. How could you utter such a thing?!”

And you’re right. Travis’ third studio album is larger than life and it solidified his spot in Hip-Hop. However, I completely counted this project out. I didn’t anticipate Astroworld to impress me at all let alone give me chills while listening on a constant loop. Astroworld deserves all the praise it’s getting…and even more praise from me. I’m awake now.

Travis Scott’s Astroworld is everything an album should be. It’s his magnum opus. The eerie amusement park was a perfect motif to create a consistent, recognizable sound around. The production of each track seamlessly guides the listener through the project from beginning to end. Finally, Travis’ superb feature choices bring the album together. Juice WRLD, Swae Lee, James Blake, The Weeknd, and Stevie Wonder are only half of the many stars to lend their talents to this stellar body of work. If you’re already a part of the Travis Scott fan club then I don’t need to tell you how great this project is. But, if you’re still on the fence about him…listen to Astroworld and then come holla at me!

Top Tracks:

“R.I.P. Screw”, “5% Tint”, and “Yosemite”

 

Genesis Mihalko- What’s So Special About Music Anyways?

 

The Artist:

 Manwolves: “A Safety Meeting” (September 14, 2018)

manwolves

The Album:

The album I wish I hadn’t slept on in 2018 was “A Safety Meeting” by Manwolves. This album is quite the shift compared to the normal albums that I review and listen to recreationally, for this record pulls from a larger scale of genres with its primary genre influence being alternative. With that being said, let’s get into the ins and outs of the record. When listening to this album from front to back, it is heard that the band initiates a specific groove that works for the primary genre family that is going to be present for that specific track. They are able to do so by including a fluctuation of texture and instrumentation, so that the focus, aurally, can fall on the new “it” when moving to the track on the album. This technique gives the band the opportunity to create a record where each track is related but sounds so different, which will help eliminate any dull moments, musically speaking. I know that I’ve mentioned that there are a lot of genres present on this album, but to be specific you’ll hear influences from the alternative, the jazz, the new wave, the R&B, the blues, and the pop musical genres. Now, take a second, imagine putting all of those techniques and musical tone colors together to creative a record that sounds slick, fresh, current, upbeat, and just enjoyable. Furthermore, this album gives audiences members vocal and instrumental lines that will remain in their mind from the very first listen, so putting all of this together makes for an album that everyone should check out!

Top Tracks:

“Reaper”, “Runnin’”, and “Free Squares”

 

Final Thoughts:

 A big shout out to all the reviewers who participated in this post!! It is always an honor to put a work like this together because then we get to show the world not only our point of view as music reviewers, but we also get to show them some killer tunes that come from a plethora of different genres. Now, everyone, do yourself a favor and check out all the records on this list because that’s exactly what I’m going to do. Until next time, keep grooving.

-Genesis Mihalko

One thought on “What? I Slept On This?? At Least, Now, You Won’t!

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